Ikram Ben Aicha
Rabat- It is a quarter to three in that place where the harmonious sound of knives and forks mixed with the delicious savory of food tempting consumers to order more. This is happening in a fast food restaurant in the center of Rabat.
At this particular time of the day, it is hard to find any vacant place in this restaurant. Those consumers who are sitting around the tables are eating their food in delight, while those who just came in, cast their eyes over, hoping to find an available table.
“Long working hours is definitely harming us so badly, we can no longer enjoy our food”, said Kaoutar, 29 years old, an employee, as she had just finished her lunch, with a smile in her face, waiving to the waiter to bring her the bill.
“I know it’s unhealthy to eat outside but I have nothing to do about it,” she added.
According to Kaoutar, she is forced to take a daily fast food lunch because she is working for uninterrupted long hours.
“At lunchtime, Moroccan offices are turned into a kind of international restaurants, where different food smells come out from each desk,” she said, putting a tip on the table, grabbing her leather bag and as she is about to leave, she added “I am against the idea of eating lunch at my desk. Although compelled, one has to work in the office and go to the restaurant to eat”.
Kamal, a young full-figured gourmet in his thirties, was sitting in the left corner of the restaurant, scanning the menu with his brown eyes behind glasses. He said that “Eating out is an addiction.” He added with humor that in his room, he has plenty of diet prescriptions and weight loss drugs, but, up to now, he could not stay committed to any.
Kamal is a full time student in a private institute. At noon, he regularly goes with his friends to one of the restaurants for lunch. He said “We cannot deny the advantage of eating at those kinds of restaurants, we save time and feel full”.
Kamal, Kaoutar and others derive their satisfaction from these fast food restaurants and claim awareness regarding the harmful effects of excessive consumption of their food. Yet, they have no alternative due to the reason that it is a quick and convenient lunch for them to better carry out their work or study obligations.
The dangers of fast food
The latest study, conducted by scientists in Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, revealed that fast food is among the main causes of atherosclerosis, asthma, eczema, hair loss and other diseases that result from weak immune system. In these studies, fast food and takeaways could be to blame for an increase in autoimmune diseases.
The study focused on the discovery of the essential role played by the white blood cells that help the rest of the cells of the body to resist and fight disease.
In an interview with MWN Arabic, Dr. Nabil El Ayachi, nutritionist in Ibn Sina hospital in Rabat, said it is alarming that Moroccans are turning into bad eating habits, as they choose on a regular basis to consume fast food rich of calories. He called attention to a 10% increase in the number of Moroccans who suffer from obesity and diabetes, and noted that over 10 thousand of them develop cancer cases every year.
Nabil El Ayachi also talked about Moroccans eating disorders. “Our diet has changed and we indulge in unhealthy food addiction instead of eating whole food”.
He stated that fast food has unlimited dangers due to the fact that it does not contain the adequate amount of vitamins and is high in calories. It causes high blood pressure and raises the blood cholesterol levels, contributing to arterial plaque buildup, obesity and complicated health problems. He also indicated that one may feel chronically tired to complete daily tasks as a direct result of the consumption of deep-fried snacks and carbonated beverages that lead to reducing vitamins content in the body.
Dr. El Ayachi said that advertising on TV and Radio is to blame in influencing people to go and eat in fast food restaurants. Marketers’ intention is promoting the culture of fast food and spreading the belief that the fast-paced world compels us to give up our traditional food culture. He is wondering “why not give our children “albisara” beans/peas soup instead of soft drink? At least, it will help them stay full and benefit from the nutrition facts of the beans/peas which had long been the main meal of our ancestors.”
In one of the country’s famous restaurants, located in Agdal, young people cluster around the wooden tables placed outdoors, eating burgers and fries greedily. From time to time, they chuckle and giggle ignoring others sitting around them and staring at them in surprise.
Fatine, 16 years old, said with a wide smile, showing up her straight teeth,: “Fast food is a fad, we actually come here to feel like being American, and somehow break free from those nosy Moroccans.”
According to Fatine, the reason of frequenting such kind of restaurants, which is an American franchisee, is to “feel a sense of belonging to the other world, the Western where there is modernity, progress and respect for all kinds of freedoms.”
Fatine hesitatingly took a pack of cigarettes out of her sports bag. She light up her golden cigarette and continue speaking while gently blowing the smoke out upward. “Every time I come here with my friends, I enjoy the taste of freedom as that of a delicious burger.”
On Saturdays, this same restaurant is so busy with a long line and an unbearable noise. Yet, the crowded customers keep their cheerful look and move forward smoothly, holding their plates and looking around for an available table. Nowadays, this restaurant has notably become a family destination.
On the top floor, Mustafa, 42, is sitting with his wife and two children. “Every weekend, my children ask me to bring them here to eat their favorite light meal,” said Mustafa, who find it a way to break the monotony of work and study. He added” ‘Due to work, the only way to bring my family together is to come and eat in this fast food restaurant.” So, Mustafa, who works as a manager of a company that sells building materials, always miss his family mealtime due to workload and therefore, cannot feel the warmth of family being together till the weekend.
Meanwhile, Abderrahim El Atri, a sociologist researcher, indicated that “the Moroccan table could not resist the influence of Westernization and the discourse of acculturation and enculturation”. He thinks that our eating habits are notably influenced by the change in Moroccan society into an increase in promoting individualism.
An Ibn Tofail University Sociology Professor in Kenitra said: “fast food culture is built around a fast paced life, women entering the workforce, and long working hours, putting the pressure on the family quality time around the table. He added: “We are eagerly awaiting Fridays and holidays to appreciate our traditional customs enriched with ritual and sense of community”.
Who invented the burger?
Charlie Nagreen, a young American, while waiting for the annual fair, he wanted to earn some extra money. He then started selling meatballs to his customers. But, he realized that it was too difficult to eat meatball while strolling around the fair. He had the amazing idea: “I simply flatten the meatballs, place them between two slices of bread, so, people can eat and walk at the same time”. He then invented the idea of “hamburger” and put it into execution.
At the dawn of the 20th century, the burgers were sold on wheeled carts in front of factories, circus and in amusement parks. It was common to hear that it is made of rotten ground beef mixed with chemical preservatives. Hamburger’s reputation has then grown worse, especially when it was used by some criminals as a perfect mean to kill by putting poison inside its slices. All the stories about these murders, reported by the press, proved that ground beef was the ideal sitting for that poison to melt in.
The demand for hamburgers was slow in the beginning. Then it soon became America’s favorite sandwich thanks to McDonald brothers who provided the conditions of success by their creation of a restaurant where fast service is a priority. People were lining up to get and eat McDonalds’ burger for 15 cents. Afterward, other restaurants have begun emerging like Burger King, Subway and others.
In 1952, the first restaurant of Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC emerged and was turned by its owner into the world largest fast food restaurant chain specialized in chicken, followed by other companies all over the country. Fast food industry widely spread out in the United States and established franchisees worldwide.
Charlie, the hamburger inventor, would have never imagined at the moment he flattened the meatballs between the two slices of bread, the extraordinary change that this sandwich would bring into the world. The consumption of hamburgers and its variations have become more prevalent. Today, Americans eat about 13 billion hamburgers per year. If we put those patties in a straight line, it could surround the Earth 32 times. How about counting the number of those sandwiches consumed in the whole world?
Translated from Arabic by Rachida Bentaleb
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed